Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New Refugee Bill Opposed....

The steps of Parliament House in Adelaide was the venue for a rally in opposition to the Federal Government’s new migration amendment bill last Sunday. Initiated by Amnesty International and supported by other refugee advocacy groups such as Justice for Refugees (JRSA), the rally attracted around 300 people. The vocal crowd heard speakers from various political and social justice organisations denounce the proposed bill as inhumane and heartless.

The bill was introduced by the Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration Andrew Robb on May the 11th and if adopted will further tighten Australia’s immigration policy which many people believe is extremely rigid and unfair. The legislation aims to ensure that all asylum seekers are sent to off-shore processing centres while they await the processing of their claim for refugee status.

MC Sarah Hanson-Young from Amnesty International introduced Don McMaster from JRSA who told the crowd that the new bill must be stopped. He stated that the bill is inhumane and that like much of the Federal Government’s policy on refugees it contravenes various United Nations human rights policies, in particular those that relate to the rights of the child. He also suggested that the Federal Government had failed in its obligation to meet international human rights benchmarks.

Among the other speakers, which included Democrats Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja and Labor MP Senator Annette Hurley, was Jake Wishart, a member of the Glenunga High School based Student Activist Alliance. Mr Wishart made an impassioned plea to the protestors to “organise and campaign hard so we can challenge our backwards government on this bill”. He finished his speech by promising that he and his fellow students would continue to fight for a better world whilst building the movement against these oppressive laws.

All of the speakers encouraged members of the public to write to Members of Parliament, particularly moderate Liberals, some of whom have already expressed their discontent with the bill.

Amnesty International (Australia) has started a petition which can be signed on the web at

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